Michael Pearce

First night with the Tasmanian puppy

Michael Pearce


Behind Cade’s angelic face is a puppy bomb ready to denoate at any second, hence his nickname “the Tasmanian puppy.”
Behind Cade’s angelic face is a puppy bomb ready to denoate at any second, hence his nickname “the Tasmanian puppy.” Bo Rader

I’ve done many things in my time. Friday, at about 3 a.m., was a first.

Half awake, at best, I had one foot in a sink, icy water washing goo from between my toes, while I balanced on the heel of my other foot, to keep similar goo from the floor.

Meanwhile a growing troupe of June bugs were spinning on the floor beside me and a black blur streamed by, towing a long banner of paper towels.

So it was during the first night with the Tasmanian puppy. The other paw had fallen, so to speak.

Cade is the seven-week-old Lab pup I brought home Thursday evening. We spent a few hours bonding Wednesday evening in Iowa and had an uneventful trip back the next day.

All things early were impressive, his drive to catch a shackled pigeon was intense and he was retrieving to hand on Wednesday. Thursday’s 300 mile ride home was pretty quiet, that evening he quickly figured out the whistle and his name. But all things puppy average out.

“Puppies are only good at three things,” my grandfather used to say, “sleeping, eating and raising all kinds of holy (heck)!” There was no doubt the latter was coming.

Kathy and I knew there would be messes to be cleaned, fingers and toes nipped by needle-like teeth and somebody’s shoes would get chewed.

It’s all part of the process that’s fun overall.

Thursday night I slept on the couch with Cade in his crate nearby. He was up at around midnight and followed as I walked around and he did his little business.

He was back asleep in the crate a few minutes later.

He was up again at about 3 a.m. needing out badly, waking me for a deep slumber.

Again I walked, he followed and did a little business. I kept walking figuring there would be more. After a few minutes I looked down and he was gone. Even with a porch light, finding a small black puppy on a dark night in a big back yard is tough.

I found him back inside, via an open sliding door. We went back out and he did a little bit of big business and I carried him inside.

There I learned that as well as death and taxes, other certainties in life are that no matter what color your area rugs, they camo puppy poo well.

And, the best of human eyes can’t find such poo as well as a bare foot.

I found the first when I pulled my right foot from a muck boot and placed it dead center in what he had done when he went back inside.

Already bootless, I was hopping around on my left foot, pulling off a string of paper towels when my left toes found a second pile.

So, there I was, hopping and hobbling around on just the heels of both feet, alternating between taking swipes at my toes with paper towels while heading towards a sink with an excited puppy alternating between tugging at the paper towels and hanging from the ends of my sweat pants.

As I cleaned one foot and then the other, chaos settled over our home. Time after time Cade bounded out the open door and returned with a June bug that he deposited on the kitchen floor. After a few pounces he’d go get another. Within seconds there were four or five of the big bugs on the tile, spinning around on their backs and buzzing like they do.

At another glance he was running totally amok, back and forth and around and around, knocking down, or bouncing off of everything within three rooms.

“Good gosh,” I remember saying, “We spent how much money for the Tasmanian Devil?” thinking back to the whirling cartoon character of my childhood.

I looked again after I had the first pile cleaned and there was even more amok going on.

Then, about the time I had everything cleaned, there was silence. Looking, there was Cade asleep in the middle of the living room floor, laying in an awkward position, a toy still in his mouth. As only puppies seem to do, it looked like he’d fallen asleep while going full bore. He was limp as a rag doll when I placed him back in his crate. A few minutes later, I was back on the couch on the cusp of sleep.

I was nodding off when I heard a buzzing sound getting steadily closer. When I bolted upright one of Cade’s June bugs flew into my ear full-flight, then rolled under my collar, and well down my back, kicking, buzzing, flying as best the space between skin and cloth would allow.

I’m not sure a cattle prod could have jolted me more into overdrive.

I probably squealed like a little girl as I beat against the shirt trying to kill the June bug, a species I detest, and then ripped it from my back to dispose of the well-crushed corpse.

Sleep, I knew, would be quite a ways away, so I turned on the television.

In its glow, I could see Taz…er, I mean Cade, sleeping as peacefully as, well, a little puppy.